Overqualified? What the Heck?

by TheCommuter, ASN, RN Senior Moderator | 5,484 Views | 13 Comments

In today's ultra-competitive nursing employment market, many applicants have been told that they are overqualified for some positions. What exactly does 'overqualified' mean? It can mean several things.

  1. 8

    Overqualified? What the Heck?

    Employers are demanding experience in this day and age. But how does a person amass the necessary work experience if no one will hire them? This is the $64,000 question.

    Many hiring managers will unapologetically tell applicants they are overqualified for a job. What exactly does this mean? Numerous people have gotten laid off in this jobless economic recovery, and soon after they apply for certain jobs, they are informed that they are overqualified. Being told you’re ‘overqualified’ can puzzle even the most astute job seeker. So what is the true meaning behind this phrase? Well, ‘overqualified’ often implies several factors, especially in our litigious society when saying or doing the wrong things during the pre-employment process can result in a lawsuit being filed against companies.

    The interviewer wants candidates who will perform the duties for the least amount of money. Most importantly, the interviewer wants to hire someone who will likely remain at the place of employment for some time, and not simply bail when the first better job opportunity arises. In other words, for entry-level positions, management looks for candidates who appear to need the job and won’t immediately jump into the next gig when they receive a better offer. Hiring, onboarding and training new employees is a costly and time-consuming process, and when these people eventually quit, finding and getting a replacement trained is also costly and time-consuming. Managers seek to minimize their chances of repeating this revolving-door process. This is a big reason why it can hurt one’s chances of getting certain jobs when there’s specialized education or credentials on the resume. If future employers suspect that a candidate will not stick around long, they see no sense of urgency to hire the person.

    Interviewers prefer the candidate who will competently get the job done -- and at the same time, badly needs it. The BSN-educated nurse with six years of experience at the same hospital, $68,000 in federal student loan debt, a $10,000 credit card balance, and two young children is likely to stay put for a few years. The debt-free new grad from a local ASN program who still lives at home, drives a paid-off used car, and has no student loans because his parents paid for his education lacks the symbolic ball-and-chains that are likely to keep others tethered down to the job. So when a hiring manager encounters an unemployed new grad RN who applies for a position as a dietary aide, housekeeper, patient care assistant or sitter, the manager is often doubting that the new nurse will stay put for the long term.

    So how does an applicant avoid appearing overqualified if he desperately needs a job? There are ways to get around this problem. First and foremost, the job seeker must downplay any education and credentials on the application. Mention it once, but do not expound on it. Second of all, if you are granted an interview, it would greatly help your case to emphasize how much you need the job. For example, mention that you have outstanding student loans to repay. Third, reaffirm that you’ve researched the company, liked what you’ve seen up to this point, and plan to stick around for a few years because you really want to be a part of this great organization.

    Obviously, the term ‘overqualified’ is occasionally utilized as a politically correct justification for real reasons that some biased hiring managers cannot openly say due to the legalities involved, such as “she looks as if she is about to deliver her baby,” “that guy’s gold teeth look ghetto,” “she appears to be 70+ years old and frail,“ “I cannot stand listening to her funny accent” or “we just did not like how you came across to us.” There is not a whole lot you can do to prove these things. The best action you can take is to dust yourself off, try again, learn from the experience, and attempt to display yourself in a more favorable light during future interviews.
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 5
  2. Similar Topics:

    About TheCommuter, ASN, RN

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter has '9' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. From 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'; 33 Years Old; Joined Feb '05; Posts: 28,238; Likes: 40,994. You can follow TheCommuter on My Website

    Read more articles from TheCommuter

    13 Comments so far...

  3. 9
    And so, when told you are "Overqualified," confidently ask "Can I have your job, then?"
    007Bonita, xoemmylouox, nomad29, and 6 others like this.
  4. 2
    This article could help a lot of job seekers. Thanks for sharing this. By the way, if you are told "overqualified", ask again. Sometimes, it will work the second time around.
    SE_BSN_RN and Aongroup1990 like this.
  5. 5
    I have to disagree with, "mention outstanding student loans". Bringing up your personal life in an interview could be a double sword. I always have been hired by not appearing over enthused or underwhelmed with the interviewer. You have to play the mind game of, you can benefit from me as much as I can benefit from you. "Refuse to lower your standards because someone is unwilling to raise theirs".
    I think this article is beneficial. But, on the other hand it requires someone to downplay him/herself in order to obtain employment. If the employer couldn't find another reason other than "You're overqualified", I wouldn't work for that organization anyway. If I downplay my success to get a job, I must downplay my intelligence to maintain a job. You eventually become who you are surrounded by.
    007Bonita, elkpark, LM NY, and 2 others like this.
  6. 2
    I thought in this kind of economy where people with Master's degrees earn mediocre wages, almost everybody is overqualified for the type of work they perform.
    RNinIN and brandy1017 like this.
  7. 0
    I love this writeup but it should not encourage those employers whose aim is to enslave their workers!
  8. 0
    I don't agree with talking about loans or downplaying any education. I don't understand why downplaying the fact that I have a BSN would be in any way helpful.
    And I think it's unprofessional to go into an interview saying "oh I have so many loans " It makes it obvious that you are there for the money, not for passion. And how do I know you won't stay put if you find a better paying job? You are so nervous about money that I have no way of knowing whether you will leave for something that pays $3 more an hour after you get 1 year of experience.
  9. 3
    Quote from obesity33
    It makes it obvious that you are there for the money, not for passion.
    All of us expect to be paid in exchange for rendering our services. Passion isn't enough to pay the bills or keep food on the table. If your boss suddenly told you that the company would no longer pay you, would you still work there for free?

    We are all there for the money to a certain extent.
    bebbercorn, xoemmylouox, and RNinIN like this.
  10. 0
    Quote from TheCommuter
    All of us expect to be paid in exchange for rendering our services. Passion isn't enough to pay the bills or keep food on the table. If your boss suddenly told you that the company would no longer pay you, would you still work there for free?

    We are all there for the money to a certain extent.

    Yes, we are all there for the money to a certain extent, but it is extremely unprofessional to go out and advertise that you are desperate. You will only attract employers who want to prey on your vulnerability.

    EDIT: A good job will not say "Oh, she's desperate, let's hire her so we can pay her less!"
    Last edit by babyboobooexpress on Feb 10
  11. 0
    Quote from TheCommuter
    The BSN-educated nurse with six years of experience at the same hospital, $68,000 in federal student loan debt, a $10,000 credit card balance, and two young children is likely to stay put for a few years. The debt-free new grad from a local ASN program who still lives at home, drives a paid-off used car, and has no student loans because his parents paid for his education lacks the symbolic ball-and-chains that are likely to keep others tethered down to the job.

    as an asn grad maybe im reading a little too much into this statement but i do take some offense. I am an ASN grad w/ honors ( and not from some for-profit school scam, from a legitimate college that is one of the best programs in miami dade county). i did not have anyone to pay my bills i was only able to get through school because of scholarships i applied for and asking my professors to borrow older edition books to study from because i couldnt afford $500.00 + in books. I have tons of bills, i dont live with my mother, im a military wife i have to help pay the mortgage and various other bills and work for pennies because a bachelors in biology degree is useless you are pursuing medical school of some sort ( i was and changed my mind but thats a whole other story). I know alot of my colleagues from my ASN program who are in the same position and have kids to take care of. Believe me we need the jobs too and i wouldnt jump from a job because i had no debt. I dont know many people in this economy who arent in some sort of debt. I also know many BSN's whose parents did pay for their program and got the jobs because of the BSN and not because they REALLY needed it and have jumped from job to job because they could.

    I agree with RNGriffin you should not lower your standards for the job, i know i wouldnt want to work in a place that hired me simply because they wanted to pay me less, that spells trouble, how do i know they wont dump me any chance they get to hire other workers that will accept less pay, there's no feeling of job security. If you have your BSN and have 10 other relevant qualifications for the job thats great you should be proud of it and have it on your resume, any descent hospital should be willing to employ you at a fair rate. Ive havent posted alot but i see a worsening trend of nurses ( all nurses MSN,NP,BSN,ADN, ect...) taking crap pay and working in crap conditions because everyone is desperate for a job to pay their bills, this is depreciating our value and the hospitals and various corps will and have taken advantage because they know we need it ,so in the end the hospital will get the better deal they will get that BSN with 6 years exp and plethora of qualifications and pay him/her new grad pay because they know they can. We need to start standing up for ourselves and know our worth because i didnt bust my ass in school and neither did you for anything less than what we know we deserve. its sickening that i see hundreds of nurses ( experienced at that ) jump at a position for 22 dollars an hour when just a few years ago those same nurses could easily have made 30 minimum plus differential. It needs to revert back to the way it was, when not just the nurses had to show what they could offer the hospitals but the hospitals had to show the nurses what they could offer them as well (educational assistance, sign on bonus, tracks for advancement into management or other areas, ect) those days are long past and its on us to bring it back.


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors
Top